One of the lovely things about participating in a grassroots movement like the PEI Home and School Federation is the pride one can take for seeing the collective will of parents, guardians, teachers, administrators and staff result in real changes to the PEI education system.
There have been two great examples of this in recent months.
The call for a return to elected school boards that PEIHSF members expressed in the 2018 resolution Request for a Revision of the Education Act and a Return to Elected School Boards saw practical action taken today with the announcement that elected school boards will, indeed, return.
And, in a move I take particular pride in helping work toward, over many years, the 2017 resolutions School Food Guiding Principles and Provincial School Food Strategy, and the 2015 resolution Establish a Provincial School Lunch Program for All Island Children, after some false starts and a lot of work by many, many people in and out of government, will finally be realized in 2020 with the announcement in the Legislative Assembly by Minister of Education Brad Trivers that “it is definitely my goal to have a universal school-food program in every school across Prince Edward Island by September 2020.”
The tiny kernel of the seed of this project started on a fall day in 2013 when parent Lisa MacDougall came to a home and school brainstorming meeting at Montague Consolidated School. At that meeting we talked about resolutions and policy making, and Lisa got engaged, ultimately spearheading the original resolution on the topic. By 2016 Lisa had become President of the PEIHSF, with the support of a broad team of people across the province, pushed the issue forward to the point where it achieved momentum and, ultimately, became government policy.
I believe strongly that deliberate, broad, inclusive policy-making can result in positive change, and the PEIHSF, which has been doing this for more than 65 years, is a good example of this: resolutions start in small meetings at local schools, get distributed to every school across the province for discussion, and are then debated at an annual meeting each spring. When a PEIHSF resolution passes, its grassroots provenance makes it more likely to be taken seriously. It can be a slow process to see concrete action taken–both the examples cited above started being discussed well before they reached the resolution stage–but it works.
If you’re involved in education in PEI and you have an idea, bring it forward to your local home and school: there’s a good chance that it can become a better idea as a result, and that the better idea can change the lives of thousands of children.